コーヒー断ちしていいことはない？ JACKIE HOFFART PHOTO
Over the past year at my job, I've found that drinking more than one cup of coffee a day can make me less productive. I get the shakes, it's difficult to concentrate and I get snappy with people, or even a bit panicky. It's not good.
So when a reader, Akio-san, suggested a challenge to give up all drinks (juice, alcohol, coffee, etc.) except water for one week, I thought it would be interesting. I don't drink that much juice and giving up alcohol for a week wouldn't be hard for me, but drinks that have caffeine in them — coffee, Coke, tea — they are my true weakness.
My love affair with caffeinated drinks goes back to my childhood. I used to drink so much Coke — and apparently get really hyperactive and then agitated — that my parents forbade me from drinking it for several years. I don't drink Coke much any more, but I love coffee. And because I drink one or two cups a day, sometimes more, I thought it was high time*> I try to assert some control over my caffeine intake again.
I kept a small diary to describe what I was feeling each day throughout the challenge.
Day 1 (Sunday): Feeling really sleepy despite being well-slept. Made some decaf coffee. It had the right taste but I didn't feel satisfied. Had some mint tea later on . . . still dragging.
Day 2 (Monday): Really tired at 10:30 a.m. Had a decaf but it wasn't that good. Finding work really difficult.
Day 3 (Tuesday): Today I'm tired, gloomy. It's been an awful day at work. I want to treat myself to sweets and pastries because I can't have coffee! I feel strange, like blob of jelly. Had a decaf and a hot chocolate, which helped, but I feel really aggressive and sad somehow at the same time.
Day 4 (Wednesday): Headache, incredible tiredness, lack of energy, lack of enthusiasm — mood issues again. Got teased yesterday for having decaf, which apparently has a trace of caffeine, but almost had the shakes as it was so hard to have nothing. By 11 a.m. I got a decaf, which seemed to calm me down. Still feeling incredibly drained physically.
Day 5 (Thursday): Early morning exhaustion. Moody again. Unable to walk to and from the station as fast as normal, weakness in my muscles? joints? . . . Headache in the early a.m.
Day 6 (Friday): Worked from home so had a pot of decaf — almost felt jittery from two cups of decaf. Less moody, less tired than the past few days, but maybe that's just because I'm not at work? I can see the light.
Day 7 (Saturday): Final day, light headache. Much easier to avoid caffeine on weekends, really looking forward to having a coffee tomorrow!
Day 8 (Sunday): Had first coffee at around 11 a.m. It tasted great. Within half an hour, I felt a strange kind of tingle all through my body, though I might've been over-thinking it. Mostly, it just felt like going back to a comfortable "normal."
I was very surprised by how intense this challenge was. It was so much harder than I had expected. I didn't expect the mood swings that accompanied the withdrawal to be so severe. Sometimes I felt like it was interfering with my life and work too much, and that I should just have a coffee and say I failed the challenge and go back to "business as usual." But I didn't. I allowed myself to drink decaf as a kind of relief, but that's all.
This challenge proved that I don't really have any control over my caffeine intake. And yet, unlike with smoking, I don't feel any real desire to give up caffeine permanently. So the question for me remains: Is it OK to be addicted to caffeine? I think the answer is yes (as long as it's not too much), although that feels a bit . . . disappointing.
Next time: What if I ... apply for a job?